Abstract: In recent years, two phenomena have put Europe’s liberal democracies under strain: populism and polarization. The rise of populist parties, the increasing radicalization of publics and political discourse, as well as the expansion of hyperpartisan media have caused concern among observers and citizens alike. While lively academic discussions have revolved around the causes of these phenomena, research regarding their real-world consequences has been sparse. This thematic issue wants to address this gap in the literature and contribute to developing strategies for mitigating potential threats populism and polarization may pose to liberal democracies. To this end, it examines how populism and polarization affect citizens across Europe. It links research on audiences of hyperpartisan media with work on elite-induced polarization, populist conceptions of democracy, election results and support for the democratic system, and policy-making by populist governments.
Keywords: democracy; hyperpartisan media; polarization; political support; populism